Jan 052014
 

California DOJ Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse (BMFEA) chief of prosecutions, Mark Zahner, files no criminal charges after Dr. Kathryn Locatell protects nursing home

The California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) Licensing and Certification Program, hardly an aggressive watchdog of wealthy, politically connected nursing homes, issued a class “B” citation and monetary fine in October 2011 to North American Health Care, Inc.’s client nursing home Lake Balboa Care Center in Van Nuys, Calif. CDPH said that Lake Balboa Care Center failed to administer oxygen to a fainting patient at a flow rate required by physician orders and the patient’s care plan. At that time, the unfortunate, 88-year-old victim suffered rapidly declining oxygen saturation levels, cardiopulmonary arrest, and unexpected death. In its citation, CDPH said, “The above violation had a direct relationship to the health, safety and security of Patient 1.” Despite CDPH’s findings, tantamount to obvious elder neglect, the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse (BMFEA) chief of prosecutions, Mark Zahner, based his decision to file no criminal charges in the case, not on BMFEA Special Agent J. Timothy Fives’ expert opinion, but instead on the different opinion of BMFEA medical consultant Kathryn L. Locatell, M.D. Dr. Locatell shockingly said, “There were no breaches of any applicable standards of care in the events leading to Mr. [patient’s name deleted] death. I see no indication of neglect whatsoever…[W]hether or not oxygen was administered, or administered timely…was immaterial.”

New California nursing home video camera bill proposed to combat elder abuse and neglect

Dear Friend:

We at Elder Abuse Exposed.com hope that California State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) or another member of the California Legislature will accept our proposal to introduce a nursing home video camera bill like the recently enacted bipartisan Oklahoma law (Senate Bill 587), which was approved unanimously by both the Oklahoma State Senate and House of Representatives. It confirms the right of consenting, vulnerable nursing home residents to install, at their own expense, video surveillance cameras in their own private bedrooms. Our proposal also confirms the right of consenting residents in residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs), also known as assisted living facilities, to choose to have the protection that in-room video camera monitoring can provide.

In addition, our video camera proposal ensures and vigorously protects the privacy rights of those RCFE and nursing home residents who do not consent to video monitoring. In other words, only consenting residents who want to exercise their right to video monitoring in their own private bedrooms could be monitored, and residents who do not consent could never be monitored by video cameras in their bedrooms.

Sadly, while many nursing homes and RCFEs provide good care, there have been abuses and instances of very poor care, including false or misleading nursing notes to cover up abuse and poor care. Our proposed nursing home and RCFE video camera bill would serve as a strong deterrent to this abuse, poor care, and falsification of patient records. The video camera bill, which would provide for proper resident consents, video monitoring warning signs, and strict privacy safeguards, would permit facility management and residents’ family members to monitor facility staff inside rooms when no one else is watching the staff. As a result, the facility management could improve staff training, take appropriate disciplinary action, and reduce or even eliminate poor or neglectful care.

We think that a nursing home video camera law in California would make it very difficult for nursing home and RCFE operators to understaff facilities and thereby overload nursing staff to the point of making the well-meaning, caring staff hardened and desensitized to patient neglect and suffering. Equally important, video camera monitoring would deter facility staff from falsifying patient records to cover up poor care and neglect because facility administration and cooperating family members could easily verify the actual care through video camera recordings.

Please help now by signing our petition supporting a nursing home video camera bill with strict privacy safeguards

Please help us get this bill launched by taking just a minute or two to sign a petition which says simply:

Get the California government out of elderly citizens’ private bedrooms. I support a bill that would allow video camera monitoring with the proper resident consents and strict privacy safeguards, like the recently enacted bipartisan Oklahoma law, to combat elder abuse.

Please click here to sign the petition, which a growing list of prominent geriatricians and elder abuse experts (below) have already signed (as individuals and not on behalf of the entities for which they work):

  • Laura Mosqueda, M.D., director of geriatrics, chair and professor of Department of Family Medicine, Ronald W. Reagan Endowed Chair in Geriatrics, and director of Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine.
  • James Spar, M.D., director of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry Inpatient Program and professor of clinical and geriatric psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

  • Robert Neshkes, M.D., chief of  Geropsychiatry Treatment Unit at West Los Angeles V.A. Medical Center and retired clinical assistant professor of psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
  • Deborah Newquist, Ph.D., M.S.W., assistant clinical professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California (USC), former director of geriatric services for international chronic care services company ResCare Inc., and founder and president of Southern California-based geriatric care management and home care company Senior Care Resources.

Some of the benefits of video camera monitoring in California nursing homes and residential care facilities for the elderly

What are the benefits of video camera monitoring? One good example is a residential care facility for the elderly (RCFE) named Vista Gardens Memory Care, in San Diego County in the town of Vista, California, which was built with video cameras installed for the protection of the residents who want video monitoring. If the California Department of Social Services’ (DSS’) Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD), which regulates RCFEs, did not prohibit Vista Gardens Memory Care residents from benefiting from the safeguards of in-room video camera monitoring, then:

  • If there was any question about whether a staff person misbehaved, Vista Gardens could find out if it occurred and correct it immediately.
  • If, for example, a resident was found on the floor with a bruise on the head, Vista Gardens could review the video recording to see how and if the bruises occurred when the patient fell out of bed reaching for a nightstand or in some other manner.
  • If the bruising was caused by a fall from reaching for a nightstand while in bed, the recording would show this, and Vista Gardens would simply move the nightstand closer to the bed.
  • If the recording showed any other reason for the bruising, Vista Gardens would also be able to take corrective actions immediately and notify the appropriate authorities and individuals.
  • Vista Gardens could also review the video of the resident falling to relay pertinent information to paramedics or the emergency room for treatment decisions.
  • If a hallucinating resident were to claim that something improper occurred (e.g., a lady claiming a naked man was in her room), Vista Gardens could review the video to ascertain that it did or did not happen.

Calif. Dept. of Social Services’ infringes on RCFE residents’ right to use video cameras in their private bedrooms

Unfortunately, the California DSS’ CCLD has prohibited video monitoring in the residents’ rooms at Vista Gardens Memory Care. Neither the resident, his or her family, nor Vista Gardens may have video camera monitoring in the residents’ private rooms, according to CCLD, even though residents or the residents’ healthcare agents have given written consent for and fervently want the video monitoring for their own protection.

DSS’ CCLD told Vista Gardens that in order to operate the video cameras, Vista Gardens had to apply for an exception request for camera monitoring program. Although Vista Gardens applied for the exception request on July 21, 2011, Vista Gardens has predictably not received any response from DSS’ CCLD.

But the fact is that no California or federal law prohibits video cameras in consenting residents’ rooms, where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy only for the residents. The residents or their healthcare agents have a right to waive the privacy in a limited way for video monitoring.

Bottom line: DSS’ CCLD and the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH’s) Licensing and Certification Program, which regulates nursing homes, do not have any legal authority to prohibit video camera monitoring. But DSS’ CCLD, which we believe acts as a proxy for the California Assisted Living Association (CALA) and the California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF), unjustifiably infringes on vulnerable, elderly residents’ right to use video monitoring in their own private bedrooms to protect against elder abuse and poor care.

California government (CCLD and CDPH) should not even concern itself with what private citizens do in their own private bedrooms. California government should get out of our private bedrooms.


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  3 Responses to “Calif. Nursing Home Video Camera Bill Proposed to Combat Elder Abuse”

  1.  

    I am one of the owners of Vista Gardens Memory Care. I have also been an advisor to the Orange County Alzheimer’s Association board of directors for about seven years.

    When we decided to build Vista Gardens, it was clear the Alzheimer’s-affected people were defenseless against just about every abuse that can be imagined. Every week there is another newspaper article regarding elder abuse and the facilities that house them.

    My concern is privacy to be sure, but more than privacy is the right to safety. Safety is not only from physical abuse, but medication, cleanliness, feeding, theft, neglect, family mistreatment, and every other form of neglect that can be imagined.

    We spent a lot of extra money to be sure that all the bases are covered we can find in our tools to try and make their lives safe, comfortable, and fulfilling. Cameras are a certain way to be sure our residents are treated as proper as we can try to accomplish.

    Every one of our residents has already signed their approval to have the in-room cameras turned on, along with the family member who checked them in. I get daily questions from our resident friends asking when the cameras will be turned on.

    The way the bill seems to be written only approves a camera if the resident has it installed. That should be corrected to include those already installed by the facility.

    Our cameras can only be accessed by authorized personnel and used to verify any complaints or our suspicion or anything suspected of needing more investigation. They are not watched by anyone on a regular basis, and all employees are aware of the cameras and have signed approval for cameras everyplace.

    We want to be fully involved in all aspects of your goal of in-room cameras.

    Harry

  2.  

    I would not have known our grandmother was being punched in the face by a sweet talking cheerful and helpful LVN, if not for video surveillance.

    I am shocked that ANYONE from the Dept. of Social Services or Dept. of Health and Human Services would be so dangerously ignorant that they would fail to understand that it is almost impossible to catch a dangerous caregiver without video surveillance. Actually, I’m not surprised. What I’ve learned from our horrible experience is that all these state and county agencies that pretend to care so much about the disabled and elderly are mostly a scam operation. They like to do act tough to the media and pretend they’re really onto helping protect the elderly, but they don’t do shit. They don’t really care. Only media coverage makes them care. Only caught-on-camera abuse makes them care.

    Nobody gives a rat if you call in an abuse claim. There is no proof. Without proof it’s going in circles.

    Only camera evidence will catch these scum of the earth, and the police know that. And that is why we need to help police do their job so they aren’t frustrated with this Bull CUYT system.

    All these fools working against video surveillance care about is liability. They don’t want more video surveillance because anything caught on camera means these cubicle-dwelling-found-a-place-to-hide do-nothings can continue to do nothing. The less they know, the less they have to think and work.

  3.  

    Video surveillance is desperately needed in all residential care facilities for elderly and disabled clients/patients. How could anyone be against this? Video monitoring is a necessary safeguard to protect vulnerable people’s health and safety.

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